It is recommended that all business emails contain the following two elements:
1. Mandatory information
2. Optional Information
Sections 349 to 351 of the Companies Act 1985 (as amended by the Companies Act 2006) require that the following information is included in all business emails sent by a company (as well as company letterheads and order forms):
– The name of the company
– The registered office of the company
– The place of incorporation of the company
– The registration number of the company
– If it is an investment business then this must be stated in the emails.
– Limited companies that are exempt from the obligation to have the word ‘limited’ as part of their name must state that they are limited companies in their business emails.
All of the above information must be included on the company website as well as in all communications sent by the company.
Links to website
It is not enough to simply provide a link at the bottom of the email to the company’s website.
It is the duty of Trading Standards to ensure that this requirement under the Companies Act is fulfilled. If they find that the mandatory information is not provided on all company business communications they could impose a fine.
Non-compliance with listingÂ the mandatory information can lead to a maximum fine of Â£1,000 under the Companies Act.
Continual breach of this requirement could lead to an additional fine of up to Â£3000 per day.
It is advised that companies list the following in their email footers, but it must be noted that the information is not mandatory under the Companies Act:
1. Email disclaimers
2. Confidentiality Notices
These are used in email footers to limit the company’s liability. They can be drafted to exclude or limit the liability in relation to claims such as by third parties concerning the content of the email, malicious software transmitted with the email, or any negligent statements made in the email.
As there is little legal guidance on email disclaimers, expert legal advice should be sought to decide which disclaimers are appropriate for a specific business. Care must be taken when drafting email disclaimers, since those that are too broad are unlikely to be favourable with the courts and may fail to be effective.
These state that the information contained in the email is confidential, and that the recipient of the email should not disclose any confidential information received without the sender’s permission.
Again, there is no legal guidance for confidentiality notices, other than the general law of confidence, so these should also be drafted by legal advisors. However, because of this, a court will exercise its discretion when dealing with a dispute based on a confidentiality notice, based on the individual facts of the case.